What is a landmark?
A landmark is a building, property, or object that has been designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission because it has a special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the city, state, or nation.
Landmarks are not always buildings. A landmark may be a bridge, a park, a water tower, a pier, a cemetery, a building lobby, a sidewalk clock, a fence, or even a tree. A property or object is eligible for landmark status when at least part of it is thirty years old or older.
Why is it important to designate and protect landmarks and historic districts?
As the Landmarks Law states, protection of these resources serves the following purposes:
1. Safeguarding the city's historic, aesthetic, and cultural heritage;
2. Helping to stabilize and improve property values in historic districts;
3. Encouraging civic pride in the beauty and accomplishments of the past;
4. Protecting and enhancing the city's attractions for tourists, thereby benefitting business and industry;
5. Strengthening the city's economy; and
6. Promoting the use of landmarks for the education, pleasure, and welfare of the people of the city.
What is the Landmarks Preservation Commission?
The Landmarks Preservation Commission is the New York City agency that is responsible for identifying and designating the city's landmarks and the buildings in the city's historic districts. The Commission also regulates changes to designated buildings.
The agency, consisting of eleven Commissioners and a full-time staff, is called the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the name is also used to refer to the eleven Commissioners acting as a body.
When was the Commission established?
The Landmarks Preservation Commission was established in 1965 when Mayor Robert Wagner signed the local law creating the Commission and giving it its power.
Why was the Landmarks Law enacted?
The Landmarks Law was enacted in response to New Yorkers' growing concern that important physical elements of the city's history were being lost. Events like the demolition of the architecturally distinguished Pennsylvania Station in 1963 increased public awareness of the need to protect the city's architectural, historical, and cultural heritage.
Who are the Landmarks Commissioners?
According to the Landmarks Law, the eleven Commissioners must include at least three architects, one historian, one city planner or landscape architect, and one realtor. There must be at least one resident of each borough on the Commission. Ten Commissioners serve part-time and receive no salary; the Chairman is a full-time, paid Commissioner. The Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor, with the advice and consent of the City Council, for three-year terms. The Chairman and the Vice-Chairman are designated by the Mayor.
What are the Commissioners' duties?
The Commissioners meet several times a month for public hearings and public meetings. At these meetings, they address Commission policies; review, discuss, and vote on landmark designations and applications to make changes to designated properties; and establish guidelines for future alterations to designated buildings.
Who are the Commission's staff members?
The agency's staff includes architects, architectural historians, restoration specialists, planners, and archaeologists, as well as administrative, legal, and clerical personnel. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has about sixty full-time staff members. Although it is one of the smallest New York City agencies, the Commission is the largest municipal preservation agency in the United States.
What does the Commission's staff do?
The Research Department carries out research, makes presentations to the Commissioners on the history and significance of proposed landmark properties, and prepares detailed reports on proposed landmarks and historic districts.
The Preservation Department works with applicants who propose alterations or additions to designated properties or new construction in historic districts, and prepares permits for changes that the Commission has found to be appropriate.
The Commission also includes smaller departments such as the environmental review division which assesses and reports on the impact of development proposals on the city's architectural and archaeological resources. The Commission administers several other programs such as the Historic Preservation Grant Program, which awards grants to low and moderate-income homeowners and not-for-profit organizations.
What types of designations can the Commission make?
There are three types of landmarks: individual (exterior) landmarks, interior landmarks, and scenic landmarks. The Landmarks Preservation Commission may also designate areas of the city as historic districts.
1. An individual landmark is a property, object, or building that has been designated by the Landmarks Commission. These properties or objects are also referred to as "exterior" landmarks because only their exterior features have been designated. The Roosevelt Island Lighthouse, the Edgewater Village Hall on Staten Island, Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, and Old West Farms Soldiers' Cemetery in the Bronx are examples of individual landmarks.
2. An interior landmark is an interior space that has been designated by the Landmarks Commission. Interior landmarks must be customarily accessible to the public. The lobby of the Woolworth Building in Manhattan, the dining room of Gage & Tollner restaurant in Brooklyn, and the waiting room of the Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport in Queens are examples of interior landmarks.
3. A scenic landmark is a landscape feature or group of features that has been designated by the Landmarks Commission. Scenic landmarks must be situated on city-owned property. Prospect Park, Verdi Square at Broadway and 73rd Street, Central Park, and Ocean Parkway are all scenic landmarks.
4. An historic district is an area of the city designated by the Landmarks Commission that represents at least one period or style of architecture typical of one or more areas in the city's history; as a result, the district has a distinct "sense of place." Fort Greene, Greenwich Village, Mott Haven, and SoHo are examples of sections of the city that contain historic districts.
How can I learn more about the Landmarks Preservation Commission?
Please use the Contact LPC link at the left.